Living LifeWise is a regular column provided by LifeWise Ambassadors – LifeWise employees whose healthy choices are helping them live better lives. Today’s column is provided by LifeWise Ambassador Dana Robertson Halter.
For locals, October in the Pacific Northwest means that the rain is pretty much here to stay. When it’s pouring outside and dark by 4:30 p.m., it’s hard to find the motivation to get outside. But getting outside and staying fit, even when it’s rainy and cold, can be rewarding and invigorating. I’m too cheap to pay gym fees, loathe the time it takes to get to and from the gym and love being outside. So I’ve hit the streets in rain, wind, ice and snow – sometimes all at once!
Here are some ideas to help you learn to love – or at least tolerate – exercising in the rain.
Get the right gear
If you’re soaking wet and chilled to the bone, exercising is no fun – and being overdressed isn’t any better. Investing in a lightweight rain jacket, waterproof socks and a hat with a brim (to keep water from dripping all over your face) will make your rainy walks, runs and hikes much more enjoyable. While you’re out, try to avoid standing water. Puddle jumping is a great activity with the kids, but wet feet are prone to blisters.
If you’re a cyclist and willing to give riding in the rain a try, you get extra points for your commitment. It takes longer to warm up on a bicycle, so keep your core warm with a wicking base layer made from wool or polypropylene. Wool socks are a must, as are full-fingered water and wind-resistant gloves and some sort of cover for your shoes (neoprene booties are my favorite). Tip: You can also wrap a plastic baggie around your sock and put your shoe on for a free alternative to booties.
Purchase a clear cycling rain jacket that you can slip on anytime you’re caught in a squall. It’s worth spending a few extra dollars for one that’s wind and water resistant – not waterproof. The cheap plastic ones will keep you dry, but you’ll suffer from what I call “The Cycling Greenhouse Effect” and end up sweating up a storm. Installing fenders on your bike will keep you dry and comfortable. As an added bonus, you can ride with friends. Riding in a group on a wet day sans fenders makes you very unpopular with your two-wheeled friends.
I religiously check weather maps and try to time my workouts for the driest parts of the day. I also often psych myself up to mentally prepare for running in the rain, only to find myself in a great mood when the weather’s better than expected. Sometimes you can’t avoid being caught in a downpour (or a car soaks you as it drives by). Once you’ve finished your soggy workout, change your clothes or take a warm shower as soon as possible to return your body temperature to normal.
Rainy roads and the glare from headlights compromise visibility, so make sure everyone can see you by dressing in reflective clothing and bright colors. If you look like a Christmas tree when you head out for your evening walk, you’re doing something right. Lights are essential for rainy riding and a head lamp for rainy winter running will light your way if you run after dark. Wear shoes with enough traction that you won’t slip on wet pavement. Finally, if lightning strikes or you hear thunder, head inside immediately.
Stick with your plan and don’t let crummy weather be an excuse for not exercising. If you’ve chosen to live in the Pacific Northwest, you can’t let a little rain ruin your plans. Also, your friends and co-workers will think you’re tough if you exercise in terrible weather. I’ve developed a reputation at work for being hard-core because I frequently return from lunchtime runs looking like a drowned rat. Most company leaders are fans of employees who prioritize their health, and I get a smile when they see me returning from a run or heading out for my bike commute home on a rainy night.
Dana Robertson Halter is a lifelong athlete and mother of 4-year-old Cassandra and 20-month-old McKenna. Dana started swimming competitively at six, began racing triathlons after college, switched to bike racing in 2004 because triathlons were too lonely, and then went back to racing solo (marathons) after having her first child in 2009. Living LifeWise is how Dana keeps her body and brain strong – and it provides a healthy outlet for her competitive spirit. Dana works as a Communications Manager for LifeWise and lives in Ballard with her family and two Australian Shepherds. Learn more about her in the short video below.